Sunday, December 30, 2007

More Research Fun!

Believe it or not, sometimes I check the "Asexuality" page on Wikipedia to see if there's anything new there. This is a very slow day, so I did exactly that. And there's a LOT more information on research now, including more things I've never heard of before. This intrigued me the most:

A 1977 paper entitled Asexual and Autoerotic Women: Two Invisible Groups, by Myra T. Johnson, may be the first explicitely devoted to asexuality in humans. Johnson defines asexuals as those men and women "who, regardless of physical or emotional condition, actual sexual history, and marital status or ideological orientation, seem to prefer not to engage in sexual activity." She contrasts autoerotic women with asexual women: "The asexual woman...has no sexual desires at all [but] the autoerotic woman...recognizes such desires but prefers to satisfy them alone." Johnson's evidence is mostly letters to the editor found in women's magazines written by asexual/autoerotic women. She portrays them as invisible, "oppressed by a consensus that they are nonexistent," and left behind by both the sexual revolution and feminist movement. Society either ignores or denies their existence, or insists they must be ascetic for religious reasons, neurotic, or asexual for political reasons.

Cool, huh? It's in a book called "The Sexually Oppressed", which I'm actually buying off Amazon.com right now. The book's only $6.50 with shipping, which seems like a fairly good deal for an out-of-print volume from 1977. A small price to pay for our edification, don't you think?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Let's Talk About X

You've probably heard of the Kinsey scale. Seven categories, from 0 to 6, describe sexual orientation from exclusively straight to exclusively gay and everything in between. However, you may not know (and neither did I until yesterday) that Mr. Kinsey included an eighth category-- "X"-- for asexual people. You don't hear as much about "X", as say, "3". It wasn't in the movie starring Liam Neeson, and it never got much page time in the Kinsey Reports, but it was there nonetheless. When I discovered "X", quite by chance, I was filled with a strange swell of Sally Field-esque gratitude: "He knew about us! He really knew about us!" And not only that, but Kinsey noticed our existence as early as 1948. Which is a very respectable rebuttal to anyone accusing us of randomly, you know, making all this up.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Questionable Content?

Thanks again to Mary for pointing this out. I always like to see the word "asexual" appear somewhere, although you'll have to wait until the last frame. Apologies for part of the image being cut off-- click on it and magnify to see the whole thing:


If I was offended by this, it would probably make for a much better post. But alas, I am not. You're looking at the web comic Questionable Content. By its very nature as a comic strip, it's not something most people are going to take seriously-- or look at for information on sexuality. Also, it implies that asexuality exists in some form, which is usually the hardest part of our battle. Sure, the strip implies that you can suddenly become asexual, which we all know isn't true. However, it's correct in stating that asexuality implies a lack of sexual desire, and it doesn't seem to be saying that there's anything wrong with being asexual. "I am officially asexual, and being part of that bizarre, pervy lot has scarred me for life"-- now that would offend me. So folks, what do you think; questionable, or not so much?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Boyfriend Test: Don't Knock the Ale

While at my parents' house for the holidays, I found a book on the dining room table called The Boyfriend Test (Wendy L. Walsh, 2001). "Oh, cool!" I thought. "Because I'm not attracted to anyone, how would I ever know who to date? Wouldn't it be great if I could just decide by giving people a test?" I dug into the book eagerly. I even withstood the author's personification of my egg cells (I mean, how can anyone who's ever had a period argue that egg cells are passive?). But when I got to this point, I had to stop, in the name of love:

"If the man is over twenty-five, he should have had at least one long-term relationship under his belt. I define long term as three years or more...one three-year relationship should have happened by the age of twenty-five."-- 201
And:
"There are two ways to avoid human intimacy: to not stay long enough or to stay away all together. Your boyfriend candidate should employ neither of these behaviors."-- 202

Folks, the world today is scary enough without introducing even more terror tactics. And this idea, outlined in the quotes above, terrifies people. All kinds of people; men, women, and otherwise. I still remember a female friend from college telling me in hushed, fearful tones: "I need to have a boyfriend while I'm still in college, or it'll be a red flag!" And this friend was a perfectly lovely person, not a paranoid commitment-phobe. My point is that this idea-- that we somehow have an expiration date for relationships, or an age of no return-- is more widespread than one silly book. What if, say, someone realizes, at age 20 (apparently, a prime dating time), that they aren't the sexual orientation that they always thought they were? (Raises hand.) Or what if your prospective date, until recently, was a monk? I think I'd like to date a former monk. They make good ale, train German Shepherds, wear robes, and if they were already willing to embark on at least one life-long relationship, they must be very passionate people.
Ex-monks and later-life asexuals want to know: Who's making these guidelines? Who says relationship-virgins over 25 are untrustworthy? Is there a book of the bible that I missed? The Boyfriend Test gives anecdotal evidence, but that isn't enough to doom a whole category of people. In many areas of our lives, we won't believe anything without evidence. So why, in the case of relationships, do these strange urban legends hold such sway?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Post #100! (Tell your hoez)


Wow, I made it to my hundredth post! This summer when I started Asexy Beast, 100 seemed like a huge number. And so did 100 readers-- but now, we've had over 2500! At this generally warm and fuzzy time of year, I want to thank you--yes, YOU, sitting in your pajamas and baby seal slippers, eating ice cream for breakfast-- for reading. Your comments always make my day. And if you like Asexy Beast,
Tell a friend, tell a foe, tell a ho.
If you have to, you can even preface the information with "I'm not asexual, but...". We all know that the internet contains magical powers in the way of disseminating information. But of course, our fabled days at the A-Bar will arrive sooner with your help, and your word-of-mouth (or keyboard) is the
best Chrismukkah gift I could receive. And will I bring it for the next 100 posts? You can bet your baby seal slippers I will do my darndest.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Famous Asexual Tomb Raider?

Ms. Mary, ancient historian extraordinaire, sent me this information about Robin Symes. I've never heard of the guy before, but if you're interested in valuable old things from tombs, you probably have:

Anyway, here's the setup. Symes had a longtime partnership (both business and personal) with Christo Michaelides, who died in a freak accident in 1999.
This set my Adar tingling (can one have Adar?):
"It is difficult to say who was more distraught, Christo's close-knit blood relatives, or Symes, his constant companion of more than thirty years. Even today, members of Christo's family have difficulty putting into words what they feel was the exact relationship between their favorite son and Symes. The dealer, for his part, says that 'Christo loved me, for 32 years' but insists that despite living together since 1970, and widely accepted from Gstaad to Los Angeles as a social couple, referred to as 'the Symeses,' theirs was not a homosexual liason but a long-term Platonic friendship." (248.)

A little background: "According to an interview Symes gave, the two men met in the 1960s when Christo visited Symes's shop . . . and offered him some antiquities . . . . Christo had a girlfriend and Symes was married, with two sons. AFter he was divorced, however, Symes lived in Christo's flat for a while and after that they became inseparable."(249.)

This, though, was really what I thought was interesting. Symes actually said, regarding division of the business after Christo's death: "Christo and I were partners, not in the business sense, but in the husband and wife sense. While we were both alive, we shared equally in the assets and profits and debts of the company, but after death they all passed to the survivor, to me." (251.) (Citations from The Medici Conspiracy, Peter Watson and Cecilia Todeschini.)

I said, "Yes Mary, you can have A-dar. Wasn't he probably just gay though?" Mary responded:

His being gay and in denial seems perfectly plausible, but . . . why now? It's pretty obvious everyone already thinks they were/are gay, and it obviously hasn't caused Symes any social angst. Michaelides was from a really close Greek family, though--perhaps he was reluctant to out himself for cultural and familial reasons. But on the other OTHER hand, you'd think Symes would have used that as a weapon in his protracted legal struggles with them . . .

Readers, I'm on the fence with this one. What do you think; is he A?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

You Know You're Asexual When...

I'm at work, listening to the radio.

KCRW: And now, today's top tune-- "Night of a Thousand Kisses"--
Ily: --That sounds TERRIBLE!

Sexual folks: would you actually enjoy that? Or not? Wouldn't your lips start getting chapped after, say, the 6 or 700s? So not romantic.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Meetup Madness!

It's the time of year for eating and buying too much, but there is never such a thing as too many AVEN meetups. Due to unbridgeable scheduling conflicts, I actually held two meetups this week-- one yesterday and one today. And because there were two, I felt like I would be within my rights to have them in my own neighborhood. And to that, BOOYAH.
We went to Crepevine on Wednesday, and had a cozy group of 4 people. I even received an official SF Meetups trivia game. Tonight, we went to You See Sushi (not to be confused with We Be Sushi), and even though there were only two of us, I was glad to get the chance to have a one-on-one conversation. Add the numbers together, and you get six attendees (so I'm counting two people as four; this is community-building, not mathematics). We hold steady.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Shut up and don't kiss me

I found this on PostSecret, again:

I'm not as into PostSecret as I used to be...it seems like the secrets have gotten more mean-spirited lately, if such a thing is possible. However, sometimes I still find secrets that really give me pause. This secret is timely for me, because I was thinking about the whole "first kiss" rite of passage a few days ago. I'm not sure what to say about it except that, like standardized tests and the Iraq war (did I say that? Yes I did), it inflicts needless pain on the children.
There are myriad people right now, approximately ages 11 and up, who are feeling like "freakazoids" or perhaps "zoidafreaks" because they haven't been kissed. Before I found AVEN, I felt like a freak, too. I didn't "get kissed" until I was 19, and I haven't been kissed for the last three years. My first kiss wasn't a good experience, but I didn't even care, because I was so relieved to get it over with. Now, how healthy is that? And how many sexual people do you think felt the same way at some point during their teenage years? I'm going to go with "tons". This is why the asexual revolution is important for all of us, Ace or not. We would like to get rid of this "first kiss" pressure, and we'd like your support on the matter.
I think the first step towards this new world order is to be able to talk about your kissing history without feeling judged. That's what's so cool about AVEN-- you can announce "I've never been kissed" and have 20 other people agree with you. When someone tells you they've only kissed one, 3, or 57 people, and you go "oh REALLY?", that's not helping. "Being kissed" (and notice how it's always mentioned in a passive sense, as if it's some kind of burning bush that just appears out of nowhere) will not change your life. It's just saliva. So can we be a little casual about it, please?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

People get ridiculous

Figleaf has helped me prove that once people put the word "asexual" in a sentence, they get ridiculous. It's as if once that word works its way into people's minds, they abandon all reason. So far, I have not been able to use this power in my favor. And since it's not getting me any free drinks, we might as well send it to the cultural landfill. Here's my example of asexual mindfreakery for the day. The quote comes from an article called "Asexual men and the creeps who live on campus" by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, best known for his role on the TLC show "Shalom in the Home". The article, about the Duke student rape scandal, says in part:

The male overexposure to women has even led to the death of the heterosexual man as we know him. If the definition of a heterosexual man is a male who is attracted to women, then most men today are barely heterosexual. Think about it. Nearly all the men I know are only attracted to about one in 10 women, that is, the 10 percent of women they consider "hot." The other 90 percent leave them cold. Doesn't that mean that they are 90 percent asexual? And I'm not trying to be funny. If a man is not attracted to a woman, then he is not heterosexual. Period. And if he only attracted to a small fraction of the women he meets, then he is fractionally heterosexual.

How has the venerable rabbi managed to equate asexuals with rapists? How does that make any sense? See what I mean-- ridiculous. As if rape had anything to do with what percentage of people you're attracted to. And as if jerky guys who are only attracted to "HAWT" women are some sort of new sexual orientation. I guess I of all people shouldn't knock new sexual orientations. But seriously, folks. Really now.
*tips over dump truck, watches for seagulls*

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Unknown Pleasures?



[Photo: Food coloring with a side of ice cream. 15-some-odd years later, and I still think it looks delicious. Read on and you'll get the point...]

There's a little debate going on right now on AVEN about whether or not we should have a personals forum. I completely agree with those who say that we need to keep AVEN about visibility and education. I don't know how many people are actively involved in these activities, but I know the number is low. Spread us out all across the world, and it gets even lower. I'd think that people would be chomping at the bit to get a piece of the new sexual revolution. But, as you can tell by my frequent SF meetup dilemmas, this is not the case. Maybe in people's secret hearts, they don't want to educate people about something that they feel has caused them to be alone. I don't know if personals will work, but let's pacify these people. Let's make them happy, because lord knows, we need it.

That's my official stance. But my personal stance (no pun intended, I hate puns) is not as clear-cut. In fact, my ideas on "romance" and "relationships" have never been clear-cut. As long as I can remember, I have visualized getting married. But whether this is what I really want, or simply a consequence of watching too many movies, I can't say. Being in a "romantic relationship", whatever that means, is something I've always wanted to do as well. I don't know if I have any romantic drive. It may just be something on my life's to-do list, somewhere between raising a giant tortoise and seeing the Grand Canyon.

Maybe by having personals on AVEN, we're contributing to the system that we're trying to dismantle. But I think one of the reasons why asexuals can seem so lonely is because people are constantly shoving unrealistic expectations of romance down our throats. Like those chili cheese fries or tie-dye ice cream that your parents never let you eat, romance has a similar appeal to me. It seems great because I've never tried it; I don't think about the stomach ache that ensues. What person with a zest for life does?

Even though Voltaire seems like a tool, I have to agree with at least one thing he said: "Try it once and you're a philosopher. Try it twice and you're an alcoholic." Although I might not go that far (if two tries gets you on the floor, don't drink), like any philosopher, I want to try everything. You know, if only for research purposes. But I don't want to do anything stupid, and I don't want to be one of "those people" who would rather have any relationship than be by themselves; that's not me at all. I want to experience what the 99% is able to. I also want to be myself. This, my dear friends, is the problem.

Even if we had AVEN personals, what would the success rate be? Everyone knows the stories of the happy couples that have met on AVEN; we all know them because there are so few of them. I don't want to date like sexual people do. But I don't know how asexual people date. No one does; It's like the giant deep-sea squid of love. And that metaphor might be more apt than you think, because whenever I think about "relationships", I kind of feel like this:
All I know is that the rules, if there are any, are ours for the writing. Do a clicky on the little link below. The comments section is all yours.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Silly Model


Rosie is attempting to devour displaying the new "Asexuals do it on AVEN" wristband. I know, wristbands are cheezy. But, asexy wristbands? Totally not cheezy. If I could do so without a) going broke or b) having a huge repository of wristbands in my living room, I would make them in bulk and attempt to sell them to you at a discount. But for the time being, we're just going to have to get coordinated one-offs. I got mine from Wristbands Now, which can make individual wristbands to your specifications. Here's a close-up:

As you can tell, the text is very hard to see. The color I chose was "purple swirl", which looks a lot like funkadelic AVEN purple on the website. However, as you can also tell, it's actually more white than purple. Oh well. One of these babies will set you back $7.50 (including shipping), which seems exorbitant for a wristband. But I was able to convince myself that it was actually very affordable, considering it's a custom-made item. That's shopping online for you.
Anyway, a few people from AVEN are ordering these. As you can probably guess, we all live in different cities, so a wristbands-unite photo doesn't seem likely. But if you're in San Francisco and see someone wearing the wristband pictured above, it's probably me. Say hi; I'm friendlier than I look.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

I Wanna Be-e-e Hu-u-uman To-o-o

Taken from Feministing, with respect:
(Emphasis is mine.)

Check out Violet Blue's interview with Staci Haines, author of Healing Sex: A Mind-Body Approach to Healing Sexual Trauma.

She asks the hard questions.

VB: Why is rediscovering sexual pleasure important for survivors?

SH: Sex is a normal and healthy part of being human. Having good sex — where you feel pleasure, intimacy, intensity and longing — is one of the most powerful experiences anyone can have. Not having that can be as detrimental as sex can be powerful. Oftentimes, people who have been abused avoid sex so it doesn't bring up feelings about the abuse. To heal, they have to go toward, and eventually through whatever triggers memories of the abuse — that's where freedom is.

I know that this is targeted towards abuse survivors. I am not one, so perhaps I don't have the right to comment. If not...that's unfortunate. Because I'm tired of being told what is and isn't integral to "being human". Saying that sex is part of being human sounds all nice and warm and healthy and progressive-- unless you're asexual. Then it just sounds creepy. Because throughout the ages, there have been quite a varied list of requirements to being human. Among them, being white, male, part of a religious majority, able-bodied, heterosexual, and so on and so forth. Some people are apparently adding "sexual" to this list, and it would scare me to think that A-s are on their way to becoming objects, like the long line of dehumanized humans that have come and gone again and again.
I'm sure that evoking this dismal alterna-future wasn't Staci Haines' intention. I'm sure she is actually a nice, warm, healthy and progressive person, and I'm sure that for many survivors of abuse, these are important things to hear. But all language has power, and language that seems innocuous to some can be dangerous for others.
Let's not forget that at least 1% of abuse survivors were asexual to begin with. While I know that
Healing Sex isn't marketed towards that tiny minority, I'd like to think they at least get a footnote somewhere. I don't want to think that these women would be getting advice that isn't good for them, just because they are such a small group.
And that's all I have to say about that...for now, of course. In the meantime, everybody check out Feministing-- it's bang-on. Also, this post just makes me think of that song in
The Jungle Book movie where the animals are singing about how they want to be human--you-u-u! I wanna be like you-u-u! I wanna talk like you, walk like you, lalalala dodododo etc. Unfortunately for me, my cats don't have those doubts.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Dying Alone, Redux

Maybe what I'm about to say makes me a huge hypocrite. But isn't that what being honest with yourself is all about-- admitting your dishonesties as well? In this literature, I wrote that A-s wouldn't necessarily die alone. And when talking about all A-s, I'm going to stand by that, because I can't speak for anyone other than myself. If you asked me in person, I would also stand by that, because let's face it-- it's what I have to say. I'll say almost anything to convince you that this is my orientation and not a disorder. But "dying alone" is like the Loch Ness Monster. Everyone's heard about it, but how many of us really know what it is? That's what I'd like to talk about today.
Now, the more logical part of me thinks that "dying alone" is just a paranoia. That, like large spiders crawling over your face in the dark, it's a frightening possibility that really happens to very few of us. Some of my phobias include cults and falling into a porta-potty. Will I ever join a cult or fall into a porta-potty? Probably not, but whenever I use a porta-potty, or hear anyone talk about a certain fruity powdered beverage, I freak out a little.
"Dying alone" might be the same; just an apocryphal legend that, like so many other things, is designed to scare young people into marrying. Sometimes I have bad days and I feel, in some primal part of me, that "dying alone" is real and will happen. By being in the 1% club, I've already beaten the odds in a major way, and maybe, I think, it's just not possible to beat them again. But if I see "dying alone" as just a phobia and not an eventuality, I feel better. Hell, it's not even a cool phobia. Unlike my other phobias, which are truly terrifying things that I would be honored to be afraid of, "dying alone" seems impotent in comparison.


I'll leave you with a last example: I used to be really scared of dogs. So I decided to volunteer at an animal shelter and walk the dogs, mainly huge pit bulls, Rottweilers, or mixes of the two. In the beginning, I think everyone's a little scared of the pit bulls. But you find that most of them are actually very loving, gentle animals when they're not trained to disembowel people. So don't avoid the dogs (unless they're foaming at the mouth), and if you're scared of "dying alone", don't try to put it out of your mind. When we do that, I think it just gets even more embedded in our psyche. Let's bring it out into the light. Let's talk about this, because when we do, we diminish its power. Or, just ask someone: "I don't want to die alone. Will you die with me?" to see what a bizarre concept it truly is.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

An Observation

"Talking dirty for a hobby, that's alright.
For another glass of wine,
I'll think of England this time."
--Belle and Sebastian, "The Boy Done Wrong Again"

You know when you're listening to an album that you've heard 100 times? But this one time, some lyrics really jump out at you. You can't even remember hearing them before, but suddenly they're right up front, and you can't believe you never noticed them before. That just happened to me with these B&S lyrics.
Okay. I haven't listened to "If You're Feeling Sinister" 100 times. That would be embarrassing.

(Maybe 90.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Location


I'm still not really sure what we should be doing at meetups.
People like to eat, so I've been having them at restaurants. Food also provides people with something to do, and something to look at if you're tired of looking at the other people. However, I'm uncomfortable with "making" people go out to eat, when that may not be in their budgets. Also, restaurants can seem kind of formal, even if they're casual places. Ideally, I'd like to meet at the 3DB cafe in the LGBT Center, but it's only open until 8:30 (our meetups have been starting at 7, and you would think that an hour and a half would be plenty, but if people are coming from other towns, I feel like they want to "get their money's worth" and stay for a long time), a lot of other groups already meet there, and I run into the problem of what "activity" we would do.
While eating constitutes an "activity" in my mind, drinking coffee somehow does not. I also feel that to attract more people, we'd have to do something "cooler" and more exciting than just hanging out in a coffee shop. But what would that entail-- going bungee jumping, getting tattoos, and then heading over to Fisherman's Wharf to wrestle the sea lions? What if I am my meetups ideas, and what if my meetup ideas aren't good enough?
Maybe I should just do what I want, and end this constant attempt to take everyone's schedules, locations, and social mores into account. But then I face another fear: that no one shows.
If only the Canvas Cafe were still open... *cries inside, with what little is left of her post-Canvas heart, then pulls self together*
I really need to get these meetups into a consistent place and time, so that I can free up this mental disk space for other matters. We already have a consistent time, and I think a place naturally follows. Or does it?
Now, if you have any ideas even remotely related to this matter, please please share, and help me help the A-Team (Wow, I feel like one of those commercials that play on TV around five or six in the evening-- "Do YOU have an idea? Are YOU an inventor?"). And, don't forget that confused orangutan!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Gay Bar, Gay Bar!

Got the Sunday Afternoon Blues? Morose about returning to work or school? Depressed about another long week wherever you're being institutionalized? Well, consider this your antidote:

"Gay Bar" by Electric Six
You!
I wanna take you to a gay bar,
I wanna take you to a gay bar,
I wanna take you to a gay bar,
gay bar, gay bar.

Let's start a war, start a nuclear war,
At the gay bar, gay bar, gay bar.

Now tell me, do ya, a do ya have any money?
I wanna spend all your money,
at the gay bar, gay bar, gay bar.

I've got something to put in you,
I've got something to put in you,
I've got something to put in you,
At the gay bar, gay bar, gay bar.

You're a superstar at the gay bar.
Yeah you're a superstar at the gay bar.
You're a superstar at the gay bar

You can hear the song at this Myspace page. Although it kind of doesn't sound like the real song. Hmm. Anyway, you've probably noticed a trend, which is that I tend to ascribe a genius to simplicity that it may or may not actually deserve. To quote a cookbook I read once, "simple and easy are not the same thing". Indeed, but I love the song for more reasons than its sweet simplicity. First of all, I wish I had the brio to tell random people that I am taking them to a gay bar, gay bar, whether they like it or not, and there is nothing they can do about it.
Second, when I was in college (don't worry, this is a very innocent story), someone would play "Gay Bar" at every Theatre party. As a freshman, those parties seemed very exciting and exotic. By the time I was a Senior, I didn't like being a Theatre major, all the "Gay Bar" fans had graduated, and the parties seemed terribly lame. But, there was once a time when I wasn't completely bitter about higher education. And somewhere during that time, someone was playing "Gay Bar".
And third, when I really get into this song-- at the minimum, shaking my head around a little bit, if not all-out dancing-- suddenly my dream of the infamous A-Bar is only two letters away. Can you, can you feel it?

Friday, November 30, 2007

B-I-N-G-O!

For autistic people, "Curebies" are those folks who see autism as a disease in need of a cure. This sometimes results in dehumanizing the person that they're supposedly so concerned about. Some clever folks have come up with a "Curebie Bingo" card so that you can play a game while Curebies rant to you about how damaged you are (And please do look at the link, or this post will not make any sense).
Now, does this sound vaguely familiar to anyone? People chugging on the sexuality Haterade (c) have no name, and hopefully their presence will be too short-lived for them to acquire one. I tried to create my own "Self-Appointed Sexuality Police Bingo" card, but my MS Paint skills are not quite that bomb-ass. But, if you'd like to make a custom card to take to your next Coming-Out/Bingo tourney, here are some options, none of which I am making up:
  • This is just a phase you're going though.
  • Don't you want to keep your options open?
  • You're going to die alone.
  • Who's going to give me grandchildren?
  • You must be gay. Why are you repressing it?
  • So you don't have a penis/vagina?
  • But sex is a natural human function.
  • Maybe you're just autistic.
  • You're just too ugly to get laid.
  • You're pretty/handsome. Why don't you want to date?
  • You must have been abused as a child. Why are you repressing it?
And etc., etc., etc. I'm aware that this is a controversial statement, but I think that autistic people and asexual people share more than we might realize. Whether autistic, asexual, or both, we are often forced to be outsiders. Whether for neurotypical (non-autistic) or sexual people, the world we live in was created with someone else in mind. It's up to us to change it into a place where we can all feel more comfortable.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Here's a Holiday Post!

Today's "duh" moment: Match.com doesn't want you to be happily single. They have stockpiled a huge number of articles about dating, some of which are fairly medieval. However, I came across one called "The Single Person's Holiday Survival Guide" (feel free to gag if you'd like), which actually made some praise-worthy points. Here is the best idea:

You don’t need an almost-fiancĂ© to start some amazing holiday habits. Invite a group of friends to go ice-skating, hot-chocolate tasting, tree-trimming (you provide tree and craft supplies, they provide artistic genius). Or if you and your friends are less traditional, organize a totally non-seasonal outing that lets people take a much-needed break from holiday overload—book a group of tanning beds, go play paintball, invite them over to bake non-Christmas cookies (get Halloween cookie cutters and orange icing instead of red and green sprinkles) or go to a dinosaur museum. Either way, give your event a clever name starting with your own name (think “George’s Jolly Paintball Massacre” or “Lisa’s Blizzard Tan Bonanza”), and send out real invites to signal the start of your cool legacy.

Well, except for the whole tanning part. This is 2007, folks-- hello, melanoma! But otherwise, I think starting a tradition with friends is a very good and asexy idea. Or hell, you can even start a tradition with yourself. Our culture seems to send the message that single people are somehow supposed to be unmoored. In a rerun of "Sex and the City" that I was watching last night, Charlotte says, with much fear in her eyes: "That's why I rent my apartment! So when I meet someone, there won't be a power imbalance!" But just because we have no one to answer to doesn't mean we need to have a transient lifestyle (unless we want one, of course). Traditions give people warm, fuzzy feelings, which is something no one should have to miss out on.
I used to think that everyone was always having much more fun than me. If you also think this, then I'm sure the feeling intensifies during The Holidays. But I realized something a few years ago. And the truth is, nobody is clinking hot-cocoa mugs with their sweetie in front of a roaring fire. Everyone is at home by themselves watching DVDs from Netflix. Might as well invite a few of those people over to make Halloween cookies...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Happy AVENiversary to me!

Today is my AVENiversary-- it's been exactly two years since I joined AVEN.
My thoughts upon this momentous day primarily revolve around: "ONLY two??" Because it seems like much, much, longer. Maybe AVEN years are like dog years...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sneak Peek! Asexuality 101

Okay, so it's not exactly the next New York Times #1 Bestseller, but it is an advanced reading copy...of something. This is my draft for the Stanford LGBT group's info card about asexuality. So if you've been wanting some basic information, read on...

Everything you’ve always wanted to know about
Asexuality
but were afraid to ask!

1. What is asexuality?

Asexuals are simply people who don’t experience sexual attraction.

2. Who can call themselves asexual?

The word “asexual” is just a label. If you feel that it is helpful in describing you, then go ahead and use it. The asexual community is extremely diverse—we are all ages, races, genders, and experiences.

3. How many people are asexual?

According to a recent study, 1% of the population has never felt sexually attracted to anyone.

4. But isn’t being sexual part of being human?

Not necessarily. Sex drive is a bell curve. Just as there are people who are very desiring of sex, there are also people who do not desire it at all. Asexuals are a natural part of the spectrum of sexuality.

5. Can asexuals fall in love?

Definitely. Non-sexual relationships can be just as meaningful as sexual ones. Sexual love is just one of love’s many forms.

6. How is asexuality different from celibacy?

While celibacy is a conscious choice that people make, asexuality is an orientation. Like being straight or gay, it is just the way we are.

7. Are all asexuals virgins?

Some are, but not all. While some people have known they are asexual from an early age, others experiment with sex before coming to the conclusion. Asexuals are physically capable of sex, and may choose to have sex for any variety of personal reasons.

8. Does being asexual mean you’ll die alone?

No. Asexuals may choose to live with any combination of family, houseplants, friends, roommates, pets, spouses, or partners. Part of the reason why it may seem difficult to form asexual relationships is because our orientation is still relatively little-known. Speed the process and share what you’ve learned here with others!




Friday, November 23, 2007

Restaurants, Scenes for Transformation?

One thing about writing a blog on asexuality & pop culture: I don't have much to say about The Holidays. At any rate, I hope you had a grand Thanksgiving. Now, on to a musing!

Usually, I don't think about the fact that I don't date. If I do, it's usually to affirm my relief at not having to worry if my hair looks perfect. The only time I feel wistful about dating is when I see a very strange and atmospheric restaurant, such as this one. I love going out with my friends, and going out with my family is always fun, especially if they pay. But even though dates are, I am assuming, usually awkward and uncomfortable, sparks always fly in strange and atmospheric restaurants. Well, at least in the movies, which is where 90% of my dating experience comes from. Films tell me that dates are a mysterious, magical time when anything can happen, unlike outings with family and friends, which are usually comfortingly predictable. Films tell me this, and my mind knows that it's a suggestion, not a reality.
My inner location scout just sighs.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

(A)sex on Chesil Beach

Ian McEwan's new book On Chesil Beach contains one of the most awkward euphemisms for sex I've ever read. For your wincing pleasure, here it is:

"...Edward had been mesmerized by the prospect that on the evening of a given date in July the most sensitive portion of himself would reside, however briefly, within a naturally formed cavity inside this cheerful, pretty, formidably intelligent woman." --pg. 8

Now, I will be the first to tell you that the human body is a beautiful thing, but really now, "naturally formed cavity"? Yuck! However, I will forgive McEwan this, because also contains a depiction of the first asexual character I have ever read about in a novel. Since the book takes place in the 1960s, the term "asexual" isn't used. But McEwan's descriptions of Florence, while not always flattering, are extremely realistic and on the whole, gentle. Much like Reading Rainbow, you don't have to take my word for it. Here are some quotes that, among others, really sealed the fact that Florence is, indeed, "one of us":

"Florence suspected that there was something profoundly wrong with her, that she had always been different...Her problem, she thought, was greater, deeper, than straightforward physical disgust; her whole being was in revolt against a prospect of entanglement and flesh...she simply did not want to be "entered" or "penetrated". Sex with Edward could not be the summation of her joy, but was the price she must pay for it." --pg. 10

If Florence lived today, I suspect she would be a regular at London's AVEN meetups. However, in Chesil Beach she attempts to do what millions of asexuals have done and still try to do: go through the motions. Since this is a literary novel, there are, of course, disastrous consequences. Later in the story, Florence tells Edward, her husband:

"Not only am I no good at [sex], I don't seem to need it like other people, like you do. It just isn't something that's part of me. I don't like it, I don't like the thought of it. I have no idea why that is, but I think it isn't going to change."-- pg. 187

My favorite thing about Florence is that even though she's asexual, she isn't dispassionate. It's clear that she deeply loves Edward, possesses a zest for life, and as a professional violinist, is truly dedicated to her music. Since music is the "sex" in my life as well, I really enjoyed that McEwan chose to make her a musician. And since I have the attention span of a locust, I also appreciate that this book is very small. I recommend it for short train trips-- and as a cautionary tale. It's a pocket-sized manual for what not to do in a "mixed" (sexual & asexual) relationship. If you somehow missed the memo that communication in a relationship is key, Chesil Beach will remind you. Fail to communicate, and you could end up the victim of a strange and speedy epilogue. Don't say I didn't warn you.
For once, I've talked about a current and popular book, so I have hopes that some of you have read it as well. What did you think? (Well, besides the fact that you thought the ending was odd...)


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tastes Like Tibet

I just got back from our A-Team meetup in Berkeley. We ate Tibetan food (no, I didn't find yak on the menu) and I actually tried hot bubble tea. Crazy. We had a nice group of 5 people, both old and new faces. One of the people from Stanford brought a card that their LGBT center had made to answer questions about transgender people. And they want to make one about asexuality! Apparently, all we have to do is provide the copy, which I'll be working on this week. We'll have literature, at last!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Asexy Thing of November: Jens Lekman

Dear Sweden,
You know that celebrity who's so awesome or super-cute that if they suddenly showed up on your doorstep, you would say, "oh, screw my sexual orientation, let's go out!" For me, that celebrity is Jens Lekman. Well, he's famous in Sweden, where his music tops the pop charts. (And we get stuck with High School Musical-- how fair is that?) Anyway, I would have lukewarm English beer and vegan pancakes anytime with you, Jens.


It's extremely rare that I look at a photo of a guy and go, "he's cute", but Jens does it for me. Must be his dulcet-toned mispronunciations of "th" or propensity to rhyme too many things with "cigarette lighter". Or maybe those Arctic winters just preserve people well. Jens, this is getting a little awkward for us, so I'm going to have to stop here. But ooh la la-- ever been an asex symbol?
Pop love,
*ily
PS: A-Team meetup on Sunday! I'm psyched.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Different Loving

Need a bit more titillation? Well, here we go: Dominance and submission.

Also at the Great SF Book Swap, I picked up a weighty tome (525 pages!) called Different Loving: The World of Sexual Dominance and Submission. That sounds pretty scandalous, but it's actually quite the serious study. Ah yes, I guess I'll have to find my cheap thrills elsewhere.

However, I've read the first 50 pages, and I'm discovering that asexuals and D/Sers (as the book calls them) have more in common than I ever thought possible. Even though Aces avoid sex while D/Sers dream up new ways of having it, we've both been pegged as vaguely non-human. Aces and D/Sers see straight, purely reproductive sex as nothing to get excited about, and so the more haterific in our midst label both groups "sexual deviants". Funny, isn't it?

Both groups suffer from a lack of research and education, and young members often feel freaky and alone. Different Loving also makes a good case for the idea that we all suffer from sexual mores still mired in Victorian-era theories. If medicine was stuck in the same place that our sex research is, I'd be writing from a sanitarium right now. Cough, cough.

I also found the writers' attitudes (there are three of them) to be refreshing. They're not advocating certain kinds of behaviors, but encouraging us to live and let live, as long as our actions harm no one. And that is a view I'd like to see a lot more "experts" adopt.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Dilemma

Apparently, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry contains a reference to asexuality. Do I watch the movie in order to see this for myself? Hmm...my head hurts.
Hopefully, that is not related.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sensuous II

Hi friends, I'm back! I had fun hanging with my family in Washington. We saw many of the sights of Tacoma. Here's Hello Cupcake bakery:


If I say something is "better than sex", it doesn't mean much. To me, a great multitude of things are better than sex, from eating broccoli (nom nom nom) to whittling small animals out of driftwood. But those red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing? Pretty darn good. Not to mention, everything in Tacoma costs about half as much as it would in San Francisco. Pity about all those clouds.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Asexy in Seattle

Exciting- I'll be traveling to the Great Northlands for a few days. I'll be back on Monday. But until then, here's something to consider:
One thing the A community seems to agree on is our dislike of the phrase "just friends". It seems innocent enough, but insidiously fosters a belief that friends are somehow just not good enough. You don't need to be a scientist to know that the language we use influences the way we think. So, here's a nice piece of signage, created with my bombass MS Paint skillz. Feel free to print it out and post it prominently anywhere that relationships are discussed.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Sensuous?

Firstly: I voted in Starbucks today. That was my polling place. Serious.
Secondly: Thanks for all the affirmations of my loveability. While I promise that an ego-boost wasn't what I was going for, who could resist? At any rate, friends and readers, you've proved to be a progressive bunch. Consider my hat eaten.
Thirdly: Let's talk about sensuality. It's not something I've ever thought much about. According to an article on Suite101.com,

"Frigid? Ugly? Boring? A plant?

These were the responses I got when I tossed out, "So, hey, what do you think an asexual is?" (Alright, so my friends aren't too smart.)"

(Damn straight they aren't. Where did you find these people?) Anyway, I would probably assume that a large number of people (of course, that do not read this blog), if asked whether asexuals can be just as sensual-- if not more so-- as sexual people, would answer "no".
Well, prepare for a little myth-busting.
While at The Great SF Book Swap, I picked up a book called The Psychologist's Book of Self-Tests. I do love to be quizzed, as long as I'm not being graded. So, I took a test called "How Sensual Are You?" which was created by a student for his honors thesis in psychology. Anyway, my results placed me solidly in the 50th percentile, which means I'm about as sensual as 50% of the population. The book's author, in an extremely pompous afterward to his student's test, states:

Our research did find that this scale was able to predict several elements of sexual behavior. Scores on this scale, for instance, are related to the age at which one has sex for the first time, the frequency with which one has sex, how long one's average sexual encounter lasts, and how much one enjoys touching and caressing. Nothing surprising about any of that.
--Louis Janda, PH.D.

Janda might have a PH.D., but he failed to tell us how exactly these things are related. Are we just supposed to assume that there's a positive correlation between sexuality and sensuality? For sexual people, maybe there is. But for asexuals, there definitely isn't such a correlation, which makes me think that the correlation for sexual people might be tenuous as well. For pop culture examples of sensual asexuals, take the hedonistic characters of the film Withnail and I. Or, recall Amelie, from the film of the same name, whose (a)sexuality has been debated on AVEN more than once. In one scene, Amelie describes the sensual pleasure she derives from running her hand through a bucket of lentils. At A-Team meetups, we'll joke about the fact that so many of us love to cook and eat. In fact, chocolate cake seems to have become asexuality's unofficial mascot.
We might seem like ascetics because it's so hard for some people's friends to believe that we naturally lack a sex drive-- they must think we're fighting off our urges by force of will. Not so. We enjoy the pleasures of the flesh as much as anyone else, just not- ahem- those pleasures.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

It's Finally Happened

"And if I seem a little strange
Well, that's because I am."
--The Smiths, "Unlovable"

I knew this would happen eventually; I just didn't expect it to be so soon: The vast majority of people I know (probably at least 90% of them) are in serious romantic relationships. I looked towards this day with a mixture of fear and twisted awe, but it actually hasn't been that bad at all. I'm glad to know that people can find others out there that love them and are willing to spend large amounts of time with them. Isn't that nice?
No one's gloated about how wonderful their relationship is. No one's felt sorry for me. No one's mentioned their great, single male friend. When I go places without my plus-one, there's just more wine and cheese for me. What was I so worried about?
The only problem is something I frequently fall victim to: Comparing myself to other people. I know that if you're going to compare yourself to other people, it should at least be people in a similar category to you. When it comes to relationships, I should think about the asexual people I know. When I do that, I'm a member of a vast majority. However, this is not an automatic response yet, and something my mind still has to work its way into.
This sudden rash of serious monogamy has had an unintended consequence: more openness from me about my sexuality. I'm normally a fairly private person, so this isn't saying much, but relatively speaking, it's a lot. I have a gut reaction; I'm scared that people might think I'm single because there's something wrong with me, and I want to make sure that they know there's a logical reason. In a better world (and it IS out there), people would say of my perennial singleness: "Oh, Ily's just a free spirit" or "Ily just values her time alone". I think that most of the people I know, bless them, are too evolved to say,
"SHE IS UNLOVEABLE!", but irrationally enough, this is my fear: What I think other people might be thinking. This kind of cross-personal meta-cognition is what makes being human such a weird experience. If you can find a way to balance it with boyfriends and girlfriends, more power to you.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Gleeeee

I recently became acquainted with a social networking site called Glee.com, which stands for "Gay, Lesbian, and Everyone Else". It's not literally everyone else, but it gets a whole lot closer than Myspace or Facebook. I was so glad to see "asexual" as a choice under "Orientation" that I actually joined another stupid social networking site. If you're on Glee as well, you can be my friend. (Well, you can be my friend if you're not on Glee, but that's not the point.) My name there is ilypants.
Oh, and join my asexual group. I'm the only person in it right now, which, while a fitting reflection of most of my real life, is a little sad in cyberspace.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Fabglitter

"You, like...sweat glitter. Are you a unicorn?"
--Friend

I think my favorite queer acronym is still FABGLITTER. No, I can't picture the FABGLITTER Community Center either, but I am just a strange and random person.
The term was coined by Anything That Moves, a now-defunct magazine begun around bisexual issues.
And there's already an A in there, so we can just appropriate it. Hee hee.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Yay Genderform!

This site, Genderform, lets you make a little (or in my case, huge) web-thingie displaying the various labels we use for sexuality, gender, personality, etc. There are countless options for gender and orientation, and I had fun looking through them all. There were even some orientations I’d never heard of: Mesbian? Monosexual? Peopleplatonic? I was happily surprised to see “pan-romantic” (as well as bi-, homo-, and hetero-romantic) as an option. (“Pan-romantic” would be my affectional orientation—we all have one, but most peoples’ match their sexual orientation. If pan-romantic asexuality just makes you throw your hands up in confusion, try, err, being one.) The site states, “There are exactly 904 options here, and a total of 1.3524×10272 or 135 novemoctogintillion possible combinations, more than there are elementary particles in the universe.”
How-lee crap. So much for the gender binary.
The site also has statistics telling you how many people chose which identities. Interestingly, 10% of the page’s visitors chose “asexual”. 2% chose “pan-romantic”. Someone had even written in “borderline chapstick asexual.”
Think you’re the only [insert incredibly obscure sexuality] in the universe?
Maybe you’re not. Genderform is worth perusing for that reason alone.
I'm not going to post my web-thingie, because for some reason it ended up being as big as my head. But you should try it, it's fun!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Still Untouched

Remember this play? Well, I went to the production website, and e-mailed the writer asking him who was publishing Untouched. Gotta love small-scale theatre, right? He sent me a very nice reply, saying that the play wasn't published yet, but that he'd send me a PDF after he got it copyrighted. Cool!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Get your radio face on

KPFA, a public radio station in Berkeley, has a weekly program on womens' issues. They want to do a special report on sexuality, including asexuality. I think I'll be helping them out in some regard, so I'll keep you posted, and of course, provide links when they become available. It'll be fun to be back on the radio without having to explain why "Take On Me" is an oldie.

Also, we had a SF meetup tonight! In addition to myself, two other fab A-Teamers congregated at Los Jarritos. I thought this was a pretty fine meetup location: not too busy on a Sunday night, slow service, affordable and decent food, and a fun (although not overly loud) atmosphere. In fact, I asked the waiter where their retro chairs came from.
He didn't know, but did tell me to call Dolores.
We talked at length about the infamous AVEN pamphlets. Planning a 3-D project in an online world is very hard to do. We brainstormed some different options for what we could give out to LGBT centers. Perhaps some "unofficial" SF/AVEN pamphlets will be in our future...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sexy Mustard!

I found this video on the feminism/pop culture blog (again, sound familiar?) Feministing. It's really the funniest thing I've seen all week. It's related to sexuality, but mostly I just wanted to show you something funny. And in the spirit of the Halloween season, here you go. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Untouched

It's no secret that I have a thing for London. It’s one of those stubborn past relationships that won’t let me go; I went there in Spring 2005, and have felt strangely unmoored ever since. I love Londoners’ excessive tea drinking, their propensity to say “Cheers!” as a response to everything, the bizarre crimes they commit in lieu of gun violence (when I was there, it was something like axe-murdering cannibalism). And then, there is the undying and unholy love I have for the London Tube. If looking at shirtless Abercrombie models rocks your docks, that’s cool. But I’d rather look at this:

You can click on the map for a detailed view. I know you want one!
Anyway, it’s not surprising to me that in London, asexual characters are about to tread the boards. Yes folks, there is a play about to go up with an officially (as in, not just inferred by me) asexual character. The play is called "Untouched", and you can find the details here. There are also some interesting comments from the playwright here.
And the tickets are only 5 pounds! I’m so there in spirit.
I'm going to try to get my hands on a copy...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Letting Go, Again


"Like a self-help manual that's been written in Braille, it seems the more that we touch, the more we learn about our failings."
--The Lucksmiths, "Sunlight in a Jar"

Well, it's been a slow week for asexuality in pop culture. Shocking, no? But I've been thinking, again, about this "letting go"concept. Specifically, this: Are traditional relationship structures (think one partner, a few good friends, a bunch of acquaintances, and selected family members) another thing we'll have to let go of in order to lead happy Ace lives? And furthermore, how can we let go when we don't know what to grab as an alternative? I compare the situation to people that tell me, "Hey, it's great that you're vegetarian, but I just don't know what I'd eat!"
Those people don't know that there is a whole wonderful and strange world of non-meat options. And maybe there is a comparable world of non-traditional relationship options. I just haven't found enough yet, to, well, eat.

However, many people have ideas as to what these A-friendly relationship structures could look like. (Picture me pausing at the top of the tofu aisle, with a mixture of fear and wonderment on my face.) Considering the fact that sexual people are 99% of the population, I'm going to focus on relationships that asexual people could have with sexual people. I mean, traditional relationships would be easy if we could all find fellow Aces to have them with. But, sometimes this isn't possible. So, onward to two alternatives.



The AVEN wiki (find it on top of the main AVEN page) discusses a concept called Community-Based Intimacy. Would it be too intimate for me to call it CBI? Anyway, CBI is described as
a "constantly changing network of relationships as [one's] primary means of finding emotional fulfillment..." Believe it or not, this here old sailor is also an old hand at CBI. At the time, it didn't have that name, but looking back, CBI was definitely what I was doing. But it didn't work for me. At all. And it ended up being very sad. Buy me a whiskey and I'll tell you about it sometime. It might work for other people whose emotional needs and habits are different from mine. But I'll have to scratch CBI off my shopping list.

Then there's polyamory. It can be a thorny beast of a concept. But simply put, it is the act of having more than one primary partner. And, unlike your shady ex-boyfriend, everyone involved knows exactly what's going on. I won't admit to understanding it fully. Everyone has their final frontier in the world of sexuality; polyamory is mine. I respect people that are able to do it, but I have no idea how I could. Some see poly life as a boon to asexuals; in a relationship of three people, say, two could have sex with one another, and the Ace in the group wouldn't be pressured for sex. But how could I live in this arrangement without feeling like the perpetual third wheel, the child, or the maid? I am, after all, a jealous person. Knowing this about myself, entering into a poly relationship would be like throwing gasoline on a burning tofu kabob. And no one wants to eat charred tofu. Things that I can see working rarely enough work-- what chance would I have with something I could never see working? Okay, scratch scratch for polyamory too.

There you have it-- two ways that Aces could get down with sexual folks. If you know any more, please, toss them my way. I'd like to consider myself a good test kitchen for the topic-- a sort of barometer for what average views might be. I'm not very radical about relationships, although I recognize the need to be. Like a heck of a lot of people, I've always had a shadowy idea that marriage and kids would occur at some point, but I'm seeing now that I might have to revise this plan. Just because I write about asexuality-- still an esoteric topic by most standards-- doesn't mean I've been able to let go of the "one special partner" ideal. I haven't seen a movie about CBI or polyamory yet. And it probably shows.

So this is the asexual challenge. To somehow find out what kinds of nonsexual relationships work. And I'm talking viable options that even I could love, not ones only for the relationship daredevils among us. This would be a significant contribution to our world, for the sexual and asexual alike. Kind of like Gardenburgers. "Hey, this is pretty good...for vegetarian."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

That's My Song

There's a song that describes me perfectly. Well, there are probably a few, but this is one of them. I wish I could say that it was something sophisticated and high-brow, perhaps by a British band from the 1980s that you've never heard of. But it's not. It's "Dancing With Myself" by Billy Idol. Yeah:

On the floors of Tokyo
Or down in London town to go-go
With the record selection
And the mirror reflection
I'm a dancing with myself

When there's no one else in sight
In the crowd and lonely night
Well I wait so long
For my love vibration
And I'm dancing with myself

Oh oh oh dancing with myself
Oh oh oh dancing with myself
Well there's nothing to lose
And there's nothing to prove
I'll be dancing with myself
Oh oh, oh oh

If I looked all over the world
And there's every type of girl
But your empty eyes
Seem to pass me by
Leave me dancing with myself

So let's sink another drink
'Cause it'll give me time to think
If I had the chance
I'd ask the world to dance
And I'll be dancing with myself

Oh oh oh dancing with myself
Oh oh oh dancing with myself
Well there's nothing to lose
And there's nothing to prove
I'll be dancing with myself
Oh oh, oh oh
Oh oh, oh ohhh, oh
Oh oh, oh ohhhh
Oh oh, oh ohhhhhaaaawwww!
Much like Big Star's "September Girls" (discussed in an earlier post), I barely have anything to add to that. It's like Oscar "Quote Factory" Wilde's "To love yourself is the beginning of a lifelong romance" brought out to the dancefloor. If you can't find anyone to dance with right now, don't waste the music worrying about it. Just enjoy the opportunity for some good dancing with yourself. You know, you deserve to have as much fun without a partner as with one.
So, what's your song?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Give It Up

Even though My Gender Workbook was impossible to get through, there were a lot of neat quotes in it. Here's one of quite a few I really liked:

We've pretty much come to the end of a time when you can have a space that is "yours only"-- just for the people you want to be there. Even when we have our "women-only" festivals, there is no such thing...to a large extent it's because we have just finished with that kind of isolating. There is no hiding place. There is nowhere you can go and only be with people who are like you. It's over. Give it up.
-- Bernice Johnson Reagon, West Coast Women's Music Festival, 1981.

I just noticed that this quote is from 1981, 26 years ago. Does it mean that no one really heeded these points, since they're still exactly as relevant today as they were then? Or does it just mean they're good points? I love the straightforwardness of that statement-- just let go!
However, it's not just "them" that need to let go, sometimes it's "us" as well. I was thinking aloud on AVEN-- Hmm, I really don't get it when I try to come out to people and they don't say anything, what's up with that? It's like they're totally indifferent! One wise person responded: "Not everyone's interested in your sex life!" At first I went, AHEM?!, but upon further thought, I found it was an excellent point. I've always been interested in other people's sex lives; but then again, sexuality is a big interest of mine. Not only am I fascinated by it on a theoretical level, but I like the low-level thrill provided by living vicariously. Much like you'd be interested in hearing stories about time travel, dragons, or other things that don't really apply to your life, I'm interested in hearing about sexuality. However, I needed to get over myself and realize that some people just don't care. And you know, that is probably a very good thing. People that care deeply about your sex life are probably among the same people who say, "WE NEED TO GET YOU LAID, KID!", and other things I can live without. Aaah, letting go...now doesn't that feel better?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My Gender Workbook

A few years ago, I went to a lecture by Kate Bornstein, professional gender outlaw. If calling it a transformative experience (no pun intended) is an overstatement, then it's not a very big overstatement. Listening to Kate's stories and ideas made me feel like whatever I was, maybe it wasn't so strange and terrible after all. And if this smart, funny person standing before us was as queer as it gets, then maybe my little asexy self was going to be all right. I wish that everyone I know could have seen her speak too; I don't think it was possible to leave without harnessing a better self-image.
Pretty powerful stuff, which was why I was so psyched to check out her book My Gender Workbook.
And isn't it cute with its pink comp book cover? However, even though it isn't a hard read, and it isn't boring, somehow I found it impossible to get through. Like any good workbook, it has exercises. LOTS of exercises. Here's an example:
Name something in your life that's being done for you by another person. It could be mothering, income-providing, teaching, or housekeeping. It could be sexual fulfillment. Anything at all that someone's doing for you that you're not doing for yourself right now.
Now go spend the next month of your life learning how to do that for yourself and doing it.
Apparently, breaking down gender barriers is not a one-semester course, but a life's mission. I defy you to try to learn any of the aforementioned tasks in one month, except maybe housekeeping. I didn't want to do all the exercises, so I tried to skim past some of them. Kate was clever in that when you don't do the exercises, the rest of the book makes no sense. Suddenly I was looking at a chart of sex and gender that looked like one of those family trees from the Bible.

I think it behooves all of us to learn more about gender. Especially as asexuals, because like it or not, we are transgressing gender roles. Nice to know what it is you're transgressing, right? But maybe I just don't have time for the finer points of gender deviance. Is that terribly lazy?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pulp Fiction

"If my answers frighten you, Vincent, then you should stop asking scary questions."
--Samuel L. Jackson to John Travolta, Pulp Fiction

"You are entitled to your opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts."
--Attributed to Sen. Pat Moynihan


It's some amalgamation of these two quotes that I think of when faced with asexuality-deniers. You might know them-- the modern equivalent of the flat-earth proponents of yore, they are adamant about the fact that asexuality as a sexual orientation cannot exist. Their exhortations always come across to me as some sort of fear. Take, for example, someone's idea that the Wikipedia article
(yes, I'm addicted) on asexuality should be deleted:

"I personally don't think that it is possible for a person with normal sexual organs to be completely and totally devoid of sexual [sic] and even this article says that most of these "asexuals" admit that they masturbate, which would mean that they must have some sexual desire, so it probably isn't possible to be completely asexual. So since it is impossible to be asexual I think this bogus article should be deleted."

Ignoring the factual snafus here, why does an article on asexuality offend this person's sensibilities so much and scare them so deeply? As Jules says in Pulp Fiction, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the proverbial kitchen. If you're just going to brush off other people's sexualities, why even go there? Why even emerge from your comfortable cocoon? It's something I fail to grasp. People have always feared what they don't understand, but can that really be all of it?
Luckily, the people close to me in my life accept me for who I am. But there are countless others who try to come out as asexual and only get responses like the one above : "THAT'S NOT POSSIBLE!!" I think some of these adamants can eventually see the light. If the Wikipedia-editor quoted above is reading this, I invite him or her to read the rest of this blog and discover the fact that we are not trying to tear apart your world; just finding a way to live in it that makes sense to us.
I've heard that a major part of homophobia is a fear of the homosexual act itself. But if there is no sexual act, what's left to fear? People that won't come on to you, that won't pressure you to have sex, that won't tell you about their freaky sexual exploits? The logical part of my mind is baffled. But this is one more reason why we need more explicit representations of asexuals in our culture; why you aspiring asexy screenwriters and novelists should get writing. Going "Hey guys, you know that dude on TV, Dexter? Well, I'm like him" will never be a good way to come out.
Unless you want to find yourself tied to a chair.


For your intellectual kicks, here's a picture of what people used to think the earth looked like. All I have to say is that that is one big-arse castle.



Saturday, October 13, 2007

Love My Way

If I was DJing an 80s asexual rollerdisco party, I would definitely bump this song from 1982: "Love My Way" by the Psychedelic Furs. Because really, aren't we all just looking for love our way?

There's an army
On the dancefloor
It's a fashion
With a gun my love
In a room
Without a door
A kiss is not enough

In
Love my way
It's a new road
I follow where
My mind goes

They'd put us
On a railroad
They'd dearly
Make us pay
For laughing
In their faces
& making it our way
There's emptiness
Behind their eyes
There's dust
In all their hearts
They just want to
Steal us all
And take us all apart

But not in
Love my way
It's a new road
I follow where
My mind goes

So swallow
All your tears my love
And put on
your new face
You can never win or lose
If you don't
Run the race
yeah, yeah, yeah

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ninotchka! (Happy Coming-Out Day!)

"She has sex, but no particular gender."
-
Marlene Dietrich on Greta Garbo

Sometimes I'll be watching a film or TV show that doesn't have much to do with anything in particular, but suddenly I'll come across a line or a situation that makes me laugh out loud with recognition. Such was the case when I was watching Ninotchka yesterday, a film from 1939 starring, yes, Greta again. She plays the title character, a very stony and serious Soviet envoy sent to Paris on some official business; while there, she meets Count Leon, a freewheeling party boy who, strangely, seems to be American. Anyway, they first meet when Ninotchka is stranded on a traffic island, with a map. She asks Leon for directions. And here's the part that made me laugh. I can't possibly do it justice with a transcription, but here you go. Just imagine Garbo being as stern as humanly possible, and then some:

Ninotchka: I'm interested only in the shortest distance between two points. Must you flirt?
Leon: I don't have to, but I find it natural.
Ninotchka: Suppress it.
Leon: I'll try.

Of course, the two of them fall madly in love. I know that in old movies, this tends to happen rather quickly. However, the speed and complete lack of reality with which Ninotchka and Leon fall in love is absolutely mind-boggling, completely surpassing any other old movie I've seen. I blame my modern sensibilities, but I was a wee bit worried for them.
Even so, it's a terrific movie; go and rent it this weekend. Garbo is just amazing. In an industry (film), that has always tried to promote the most manly men and womanly women, Garbo's sexual ambiguity makes her that much more intriguing to watch. I've also retrieved another quote from Wikipedia, of course:

Garbo's biographer Barry Paris notes that she was "technically bisexual, predominantly lesbian, and increasingly asexual as the years went by." It has been indicated that Garbo struggled greatly with her sexuality, only becoming involved with other women in affairs that she could control.

Well now, how about that! We may not be able to claim her for the A-Team, but struggling greatly with your sexuality earns anyone a few free boxes of Crackerjack. And being one of the best actors I've ever watched earns Garbo a few more spaces on my Netflix queue.

And, total non-sequitor: It's National Coming Out Day!
Kind of like National Talk Like a Pirate Day, except you get to come out to people.
"Yarr, matey, I'm asexual! But why is the rum gone?"
You've got a few more hours to come out (as whatever you'd like), so get crackin'!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Do you like alphabet soup?

Another good question asked by the documentarians:
Do you want asexuals to be part of the LGBT community?
When people ask me this, I usually answer with a joke:
Well, there isn't enough room on the [SF LGBT Center] sign.
Since the addition of "T" into "LGBT" still seems controversial, gunning for asexual inclusion is almost a moot point right now. However, I'd love to be included, if they'd have us.
Apparently, some people are already throwing "A" into the mix. According to Wikipedia's article on "LGBT":

Many variants exist. The most commonly used involve adding a
Q for queer or questioning (some variants, in fact, use two Qs to represent both of these groups), an A for asexual or allies (and sometimes 'S' for straight ally), a T for two spirit, an I for intersex, or a P for pansexual or polyamorous. Some even add an O for omnisexual or other.

And also:

At its fullest, then, it is some permutation of
LGBTTTIQQA, though this is extremely rare.

I say, don't stop at transfolks or asexuals. I say, include everyone! It sounds facetious, but I'm completely serious. It's power in numbers, people! Sure, LGBTTTIPQQA (gotta add a 'P' in there for those pansexuals) is harder to cross-stitch. But to those who would say that such a community would never be possible, I give you an example that you're probably already quite familiar with: The United States. We're composed of 50 states and assorted territories, filled with millions of people who are as different from each other as can be. But despite (or because of) our crazy-large diversity, we've managed to stumble along together for quite some time now. We even manage to share some values, like freedom, hard work, and deep-fried Oreos.
Why are people so thrown by a few extra letters? I can imagine a
LGBTTTIPQQA community getting together under the premise of equal rights for all people, understanding, and acceptance.
That would be a beautiful-- albeit unpronounceable-- thing.






Sunday, October 7, 2007

Goals, Check 'Em!

You know, it wasn't very logical of me to think, "Hey, we're not getting very many people at events, so let's have more events!" Sometimes, the logical-to-a-fault side of my brain wants to hit the other side with a tennis racket.
So I think my goal will be: Get 10 people at a meetup.
Something about that makes me cringe a little; maybe it's the idea of referring to people as numbers. "Hey you, asexual #7, get over here!" But even though I'm terrible at names (AND faces, God does have a sense of humor), I don't think 10 people is really enough to start de-humanizing them.
And if we get four more, we can have a football team! But we'd have to play offense and defense. Which would probably make me die. Maybe we'll just have a picnic.